Babies Know the Facts about Folic

Title: "Babies Know the Facts about Folic”​
Audience: All women of a childbearing age who are sexually active and could become pregnant (even if taking contraceptive precautions).​
Channels: Digital and social media with a strong public relations activity, stakeholder engagement and point of sale activation.​
Launch date: 20 July, 2015


This campaign aims:

  • To educate women about who should be taking folic acid supplements – all women who are sexually active and who could become pregnant
  • To highlight the benefits of taking folic acid supplements
  • To change consumers attitudes towards taking folic acid.
  • To promote conversation and reduce stigma around taking folic acid
  • To increasing consumption of folic acid supplements among all sexually active women who could become pregnant, irrespective of whether they are planning a pregnancy or not

The audience for the campaign is all women of a childbearing age who are sexually active and could become pregnant (even if taking contraceptive precautions). 


Ireland (ROI) and Northern Ireland (NI) have high prevalence tares of Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) and evidence suggests these have increased in recent years.  Folic acid supplementation prevents up to 70% of NTDs and it is recommended that women of childbearing age take a 400μg daily folic acid supplement before conception until the end of the first trimester.  The advice on the island of Ireland (IOI) has been extended to include all women of childbearing age who are sexually active and who could become pregnant to account for the fact that approx. 50% of pregnancies are unplanned.

Although women know folic acid’s function in relation to preventing NTDs, approximately 1 in 5 on the IOI report taking folic acid before pregnancy.  These low consumption figures appear to be as a result of the misconceptions women have in relation to folic acid. These misconceptions create barriers for behavioural change.

To address the increasing rates of NTDs and the behavioural barriers to taking folic acid, safefood launched a campaign in July, 2015. The campaign entitled ‘Babies Know the Facts about Folic’ began on July 20th and ran for four weeks until August 16th throughout the IOI.  The second phase began on the 20th of June 2016.

Campaign Concept and Creative

As the campaign was primarily carried out on digital and social channels, a highly engaging creative vehicle was needed to drive the communication. The campaign material also needed to be thought-provoking and highly shareable.

The campaign concept ‘Babies know the facts about folic’ aimed to attract the audiences with humour, gain their attention, open their minds to the concept and address key barriers to behaviour change. The concept combined babies, one of the most sharable types of photo and video content, with the ‘mammy’ concept - the typical mother, full of mythical wisdom about life. The novel creative content for this idea was built around babies themselves dispelling the myths about folic acid.

Short video pieces were created and spearheaded the campaign. In these videos the legendary nonsensical wisdom of the Mammy meets the no-nonsense common sense of a child to surprise and engage the viewer. These short video pieces were produced using still photography coupled with animated elements.

safefood carried out formative research to test the campaign concept and creative material among the target audience. The campaign material was tested with the three target audiences and some members of SHINE, the charity for NTDs in the United Kingdom (UK). The findings from this research were used to further inform the development of the campaign creative. 

What we did

  • Advertise our key message about folic acid on our own social media channels like Facebook and Twitter and through social media advertising.
  • Using digital display advertising, direct females to our website for more information including folic acid facts, myths, a folic acid quiz and real life stories.
  • Direct target audience to the expert videos which features foetal medicine experts such as Dr Jim Dornan, Prof Michael Turner and Dr Rhona O’Mahony, who discussed a range of issues including NTDs, who should take folic acid and why it is important.
  • Contact a range of media including health correspondents, news editors, parenting media, parenting bloggers, beauty media and bridal media on the island to advise them of the campaign and encourage them to share it.
  • Developed posters and shelf wobblers that pharmacies and manufacturers could tailor, co-brand and print for their own in-store promotions, sign posting folic acid to their own customers.
  • Encouraged pharmacies and retailers to share the safefood campaign content through their own digital channels like Facebook or Twitter or alternatively offer discounts on folic acid products or promote them more prominently in store during the campaign.


Positive changes were noted among women after the campaign.  These reported changes include:

  • The proportion of respondents who believe all sexually active women who could become pregnant should take folic acid has risen from 26.4% to 74.8%.
  • Individuals who say they routinely take folic acid even though they are not planning a pregnancy has increased from 7.3% to 14.2%.
  • 90% of those who saw the campaign  said they were thinking about taking folic acid.
  • 38% said they had started taking folic acid in the six weeks after the campaign.